Second-generation 2-litre Subaru XV is the latest suburban crossover from Japan
XV shines again The Subaru XV 2.0 displayed little body flex over different off-road surfaces, had good body control and was accurate when changing direction. PHOTOS: SUBARU

The first-generation Subaru XV is a crossover that goes against the likes of the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Toyota C-HR.

I first drove the Subaru XV in 2012 when the car came to Singapore and again when the facelifted model was introduced last year. With its vault-like build quality and rev-happy engine, the car left a positive impression.

The second-generation Subaru XV, with an all-new platform (shared with the current Impreza), eye-catching exterior colours and good interior finishing, is an excellent upgrade from its predecessor.

At the Taipei launch event, a carpark about the size of a soccer field was converted into a test-drive circuit.

While I did not have the chance to drive the new XV on Taipei's city streets to gauge the car's on-road behaviour, the makeshift circuit managed to highlight the XV's handling capability and overall refinement.

Paired with a continuously variable transmission, the XV's 2-litre 4-cylinder boxer engine allocates its 154bhp power and 196Nm torque to all four wheels in a seamless manner.

The XV displayed little body flex over different off-road surfaces, had good body control that belies the "high-hatchback" appearance and was accurate when changing direction. The steering's response was speedy too. The all-wheel-drive car also gave ample grip on the slippery sections of the circuit.

Its composure was maintained even when executing evasive manoeuvres, making high-speed lane changes and charging through the slaloms. I could throw the car around with confidence.

The XV's cabin, like the styling, is pleasant. The dashboard's plastic is solid and the door panels have soft- touch leather trim. The orange stitching of the upholstery suits the outgoing character of the vehicle.

The new Subaru XV will come to Singapore in August.